Austrian Post and Konvoy Group are now making the most of Sigfox’s 0G network to track roller containers and kegs respectively, reducing valuable assets losses.
Today at Sigfox Connect 2020, the largest IoT showroom, Sigfox, the global 0G network and cloud provider for industrial data, has announced two new partnerships: Austrian Post, the leading logistics and postal service provider in Austria, and Konvoy Group, an Australian keg rental solution provider for the beverage industry.
The Konvoy partnership is a world first with the deployment of their keg tracking and monitoring IoT solution across their 70,000-strong fleet of kegs in Australia and New Zealand.
The beacon technology allows Konvoy Group and its customers to reduce keg losses, while maximizing the use of its keg fleet. To roll out this world’s first large scale connected beer-keg solution, Konvoy is leveraging Thinxtra’s Sigfox 0G network.
Konvoy’s ambition was to make keg supply chain management easier, with one of the main challenges a lack of visibility of its fleet. Although scanning technology (RFID, barcodes and QR codes) was an important step in keg location, scans were often missed, resulting in lost kegs and incomplete tracking data.
To address the problem of lost kegs, protect their customers’ bottom line and differentiate themselves in the keg rental market, Konvoy partnered with Thinxtra, The IoT Telco and with UnaBiz, the customized IoT solution provider, to develop an innovative purpose-fit tracking and monitoring solution. The solution runs on Sigfox global 0G network which is owned and operated by Thinxtra in Australia and New Zealand.
“When we first met Thinxtra, we already had a precise idea of what we were looking for. The solution needed to be robust, low-cost and last a minimum of five years. More than anything, we wanted to offer real-time information and high-visibility to producers and keg rental companies on their keg fleet and enable them to not only reduce loss but also optimize keg use,” explains Adam Trippe-Smith, Founder & Managing Director at Konvoy Group.
Konvoy worked closely with UnaBiz to design and manufacture a full-fledged Sigfox-enabled tracking solution that makes operational and economic sense. Konvoy’s Kegfox beacon, a battery-powered passive tracking device, is programmed to send location data to Konvoy via Thinxtra’s Sigfox 0G network at regular intervals or upon specific events. Thanks to the low-power consumption of the 0G network, the beacon can last up to 7 years transmitting location and temperature information several times a day without the need for frequent maintenance. On top of tracking, an accelerometer was also built-in with algorithms to detect different types of movement throughout the keg’s lifecycle, such as when the kegs are moved or cleaned.
Konvoy Group knows its Kegfox beacon technology may offer significant benefits to other keg owners so as of 2021 the company’s new business division, Katch Asset Tracking, will offer solutions to other keg owners globally. This will allow all keg owners to track the real time location of kegs to ensure efficient keg collection.
A keg is normally used around three to four times per year. This solution gives Konvoy Group’s rental business along with other kegs owners the opportunity to optimize existing assets and use kegs more times per year. Additionally, the Kegfox beacon enables Konvoy’s customers including well-known craft breweries Moon Dog, Fixation, Parrot Dog and Hawkers to monitor the temperature of kegs, ensuring their beverages meet quality guidelines.
“While we focused initially on tracking, this solution has given us the opportunity to also monitor the kegs’ temperature. Because most of the producers have unpasteurized beverages, leaving a keg at too high a temperature actually spoils the product. Being able to send an alert to our customer saying their keg has been transported at the right temperature is an important benefit for them.” adds Adam Trippe-Smith.
Today, Konvoy already has over 200 keg rental customers and has already fitted 20,000 devices on its own kegs and is expecting to equip 95% of its fleet in Australia and New Zealand by the end of the year.
“Once again, the global Sigfox 0G network helps clients across the globe to meet the demand for both innovative and affordable connectivity solutions. It is the perfect match for the exciting field of keg tracking and monitoring. Konvoy demonstrates that by being now able to differentiate its offer and provide a unique technological solution revolutionizing keg supply chain management,” explains Ian Terblanche, Senior Vice President of Global Sales at Sigfox.
Sigfox is also helping Austrian Post gain full visibility of roller containers across its 2,000 sites and customer sites, with a target to track its entire roller container inventory by 2021.
For more than two years, the Austrian Post searched for a commercial acceptable solution to track and determine the status of its roller containers, since understanding their whereabouts could lead to significant reduction in losses.
The organization uses two container types, for letters and parcels, each worth a few hundred euros. Buffering only one roller container more than necessary in its 2,000 sites, has a drastic impact in investment of roller containers.
The main issues Austrian Post faced during its search were the cost of trackers, typically at €100 – €200 each, and the lack of existing network infrastructure. Alternative solutions required the postal firm to set up a supplementary communications infrastructure on site, however, due to complex installation and with many of the roller containers located at customer sites, this was not a viable option.
Austrian Post was introduced to Sigfox by DHL, a company that already benefits from tracking technology. Across 35 DHL parcel centers throughout Germany and adjacent countries, over 250,000 roll cages are fitted with Sigfox smart trackers, from Alps Alpine, providing exact information about location and movement.
The Austrian Post implementation started with 500 roller containers, growing to 5,000 trackers by end of November and 30,000 by the end of 2020. The remaining roller containers will be fitted with trackers in 2021.
The ramp up coincides with the high season for postal services from September to January, when roller containers are in demand. Through proactive management of its inventory, Austrian Post will be in a position to optimize roller container usage at a critical part of the year.
Sigfox’s Austrian network operator Heliot has been working closely with Austrian Post. Heliot contracted the Sigfox solution, in collaboration with Alps Alpine, providing with low-energy and low-cost trackers connected to the Sigfox global 0G network. Heliot owns and operates the Sigfox 0G network in Austria, with a target of nearing full coverage by the end of 2023.
A significant benefit for Austrian Post is in the fact that the network coverage reaches well beyond Austrian borders, as many of the roller containers travel to Germany, the Czech Republic and other European countries. Supported by the Sigfox network, Austrian Post will be able to track roller containers on an international basis.
Mathias Flandorfer, Manager Strategic Projects Supply Chain & IT at Austrian Post, commented:
“Tracking our assets will make a profound difference to our business, and the Sigfox 0G network coupled with the low-energy tracker with a long battery life meets our business requirements perfectly.”
“As we fit more roller containers with the new tracking technology, simultaneously the Sigfox network will expand towards full coverage across Austria. This is an exciting prospect as potential future use cases are really endless: e.g. fleet optimization, understanding if post boxes contain mail for collection and lots of other innovative IoT use cases which help us in increasing efficiency and quality.”.